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The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  2,274 ratings  ·  414 reviews
America’s national parks are breathing spaces in a world in which such spaces are steadily disappearing, which is why more than 300 million people visit the parks each year. Now Terry Tempest Williams, the author of the environmental classic Refuge and the beloved memoir When Women Were Birds, returns with The Hour of Land, a literary celebration of our national parks, an ...more
Hardcover, 397 pages
Published May 31st 2016 by Sarah Crichton Books
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Tracy Certain parks are discussed specifically (Gettysburg, Acadia, Grand Teton, Theodore Roosevelt NP, etc.) and also in repeated general references…moreCertain parks are discussed specifically (Gettysburg, Acadia, Grand Teton, Theodore Roosevelt NP, etc.) and also in repeated general references (Bryce, Zion, Arches). However, I wouldn't say this book would be very helpful for a visit to the parks (no maps, no recommendations for sight seeing, etc..) as a typical guide would, but instead would inspire your heart and soul about the entire concepts of expanding, preserving and protecting what is left of our collective American wilderness. (less)

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Bam cooks the books ;-)
#2016-aty-reading challenge--week 28: A biography, autobiography, or memoir.

A celebration of the centennial of the U. S. National Park Service, August 25, 2016.

"I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in order." John Burroughs

"Perhaps that is what parks are--breathing spaces for a society that increasingly holds its breath."

"This is the Hour of Land, when our mistakes and shortcomings must be placed in the perspective of time. The Hour of Land is where we remember what
...more
Brooke
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was intense, unusual, poetic, political, and jarring with each chapter and prose shift. It made me uncomfortable at times, but I think that was a good thing. Much of this book serves as a wake-up call; a reminder to those of us who believe in preserving and protecting the natural world to not just believe, but to do something with that belief.
Debbi
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Two chapters in and I must own this book. Returning this copy to the library and buying my own. It feels like a bible for the naturalists among us, for historians, for politicians, for campers, for outdoor lovers, for everyday readers wishing to expand their horizons. Who knew that the stories of national parks and their people would be so interesting? Tempest Williams hits it out of the park with this one (no pun intended).
Patrick Macke
Jul 20, 2016 rated it liked it
starts off as natural history, evolves into a sermon, a poetry reading, a letter to the editor, an episode of 60 Minutes, a cry for help, an angry lecture, a therapy session, a drug flashback, a raised fist with a black glove, a guilt trip, a grand jury testimony, an indictment (maybe of the reader), a love letter, a ransom note ... i may believe that this is indeed the hour of land, i may see the healing power of nature and i may realize that parks and wilderness are powerful life forms that ...more
Mary Rice
Aug 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Terry Tempest Williams held the release event for this book in the small theatre in Moab.
There was a reception beforehand - my mother worked in the Park Service and was a special guest. I knew the bookstore owner who had helped Terry write the book - his elderly father is my neighbor. My sister and I shovel his driveway in the winter. He invited me to go to the invite-only reception when I came into his bookstore asking for a ticket to the release event.
There was a special, one-of-a-kind
...more
Angela
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the kind of book that one keeps in the collection. Many, many sources of reference for future readings with regards to our national parks.
Kristen
Between this book, The Nature Fix, and general work stress, I'm about to say fuck it and just go join the Forest Service and live in a look-out in the woods.
Robin
Apr 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Living here in Rhode Island where there are no national parks, I examined the list of national parks and the where they are around the country and discovered that I have not been to any of them. This book is very personal to the author because she and her family have spent a lot of time in various national parks in the west. It fascinates me when I read or hear about people who plan family vacations where they hike together. That's a whole different way of life than I've known.

I was very
...more
Trijntje
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
I'm really sad to give this book such a low rating: I wanted so much to like it. And, in fact, I liked the beginning of the book very much. The first couple of chapters were a lovely mix of reading about a subject I love (National Parks) which were written by someone with a refreshingly beautiful command of language. It was a pleasure to read... at first.

Then things kind of degraded in the middle, and by the last few chapters I found myself skimming to get through it. It turned into a personal
...more
Feisty Harriet
Part love letter to the National Park system, part memoir, and part political statement on climate change, land use, and the oil and gas industry...so, pretty standard Terry Tempest Williams stuff. This was probably 3.5 stars, I agree with most of TTW's political statements, however she does get a little more woo-woo about the land than I am, I think part of that is her, and part of that is the way she chooses to write about it, deliberately poetic and, as a friend aptly said, self-consciously ...more
Mark
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
“This is what we can promise the future: a legacy of care. That we will be good stewards and not take too much or give back too little, that we will recognize wild nature for what it is, in all its magnificent and complex history - an unfathomable wealth that should be consciously saved, not ruthlessly spent.”

“My spiritual life is found inside the heart of the wild.”

In celebration of the centennial of the national park service, Terry Tempest Williams offers us a tribute, as she visits twelve
...more
Grace Sanchez
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is a deeply felt tribute to the formation of the national parks as necessary as a place of refuge for our souls, a call to protect the parks, and a sharp focus on how climate change is impacting the parks and the world. The author implores the reader to explore and act on conscience about injustice in the world. She invokes the poets and artists who dare to speak out for human rights all over the world. Everything is connected in the world and the thread that binds these essays ...more
Karen
There is so much I admire about this book. Williams outdoes herself, using a poem by Jorie Graham, photographs by various artists, and her friendship with a vet named Doug Peacock as framing devices that lead her into myriad reflections on a group of national parks and historical sites. Our changing view of the land, our relationship to it and what it can be reimagined as in the future, is at the heart of the book. I found each essay/chapter intriguing in its own way. All are about passion, ...more
Sara
Jul 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
I'm at a loss for words about this
book. The books pulled me in so many directions. I now want to visit the parks she described. At Alcatraz, I felt I was there in person with Terry. I learned new history and refreshed on old history. Her letters in Canyonlands were personal, but opened my eyes to so much. If you are a lover of our National Parks or just nature, you should check out the book.
Barb
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Terry Tempest Williams, the environmental activist who is the conscience of our nation looks at the national parks we all love and weighs their future. Will we be the stewards of the land as the book of Genesis requires or follow our basest instincts to despoil and destroy the environment for short term selfish goals? Read. Think. Act.
Leslie
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! My heart is weeping and smiling at the same time. I highly recommend the audio version.
Kerri Anne
It feels fitting I read this beautiful book while spending a week nestled at the base of some of my favorite mountains, sitting next to and in a beloved alpine lake.

My favorite books are ones that make me think, teach me things, and remind me of my own deep, abiding, reverent connections to various wild and sacred places. They're books that spend time advocating for keeping places wild, that discuss and showcase increasingly important, earth-preserving conservation ethics. They're books that
...more
Socraticgadfly
Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
A disappointment indeed

I've read some of Williams' shorter writings before, and while not actually a fan, didn't really dislike her.

But, this book somewhat predisposed me against Williams from the first page of the "Note to the Reader."

While some cairns in the desert are necessary guides, like when a trail crosses hundreds of yards of slickrock, or takes a turn out of or into an arroyo, most — especially in national parks — are not. I got the feeling that Williams probably likes cairns in
...more
Kate
Apr 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
First of all I love our national parks and was under the assumption this book was about our park's vast and interesting history. Instead this book is more of a political piece on public lands and the opinion of the authoress of how they should be managed and protected. While I can appreciate all opinions on public lands, I am always suspect of anyone who attempts to portray that there is only one definitive use for all land-whether they are industry or environmental activists. I believe the ...more
Anita Edwards
May 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I knew going into it that Terry Tempest Williams writing style was not my cup of tea, but after I attended a lecture by her that was enjoyable, moving and thought provoking, I thought I'd give it a try. My misgivings were borne out. This memoir / self-conscious beauty / proselytizing genera just isn't my thing.
That said, I pretty much agreed with her concerns about the environment and the need for us to conserve / protect this country's areas of irreplaceable natural beauty. I learned several
...more
Kayleigh
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
First non-fiction audiobook I've ever listened to and glad I chose the audio format. This audiobook is read by the author and I could listen to her all day. She touched on a bunch of different topics and issues. My favorite part of this book was her talking about a Gettysburg's guide named James Tate who my family actually had the privilege to get a private guide by him around 2004. It was a shock to hear her tell about his life and all his accomplishment since we had no clue. I did not the read ...more
Maughn Gregory
I can barely tell how wonderful this book is, or how important to me. It brings together TTW's genius / wisdom for politics, nature, history and spirituality, conveyed in her peerless beauty of writing. This book makes me deeply proud and deeply ashamed to be an American, and recommitted to live a life of fearless, direct action on behalf of what matters most: the Earth, its endangered species, its oppressed people, and the best parts of ourselves -- all of whom, like her, I have encountered in ...more
Sharon
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An incredible, indelible, view-changing book. Each essay on its own is a masterpiece; taken as a whole, wide-ranging though they are in structure and, at times, tone, they are a blistering beauty. I'll be recommending this often with the caveat to read when you have time and space to read slowly and sit quietly with the paragraphs, because it will create an eerie reverence in you, at times heartbreak, at times anxiety, that will be jarring compared to your everyday world. This is one I'll return ...more
Joanna
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
Topically, this was great. I enjoy reading about the National Parks and TTW does her research about the history and challenges of the parks she writes about. But: The book so often turns into a preachy sermon (hey, I picked up your book. I'm already on your side) and a one-sided competition about who is more into nature: TTW or anyone else on the planet. I found the essays to be scattered. Some were great (Gettysburg), some were...not (Canyonlands). But it made sense as a personal topography, so ...more
Rhiannon
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful and interesting book, but it is extraordinarily painful to read post-election. I had to keep putting it down to let the pain subside.
Jeimy
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’m not sure what I expected, but I relished the reflections inspired by each park.
Amanda Mueller
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book was not what I expected, or what I wanted. I was hoping for imagery and history of the national parks. What I got was a lesson on the authors life and style of prose.

Parts of this book were very good, but large sections of it did nothing for me. I would have rather skipped them.

I think my impression of this book can best be summarized with a Quote in the canyonlands chapter. The author is telling us some advice given to her by Lady Bird Johnson. "Beautiful language isn't enough... You
...more
Melissa Rodemeyer
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Williams's account is self-indulgent, didactic, elitist, and the only thing that would have made it worse worse would be if it were written on the second person. Her purpose is unclear: I'm not sure if she's trying to convince the reader of the worth of our public lands, or if this is some great catharsis for her, some offering to the gods. One thing is certain, it's not changing the minds of anyone. It reads like a letter to her friends, preaching to the choir, like a manifesto by all those ...more
Melissa
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
The sections of this book that deal with national parks were beautifully composed, unfortunately that covered maybe 20% of the material. With the subtitle “A Personal Topography…” I expected a bit of the author’s sentiments, but I didn’t expect the remaining 80% of the book to focus on environmental, political and social activism. The subject matter depressed me- yeah, I get it; the national park service is drowning in capitalism and bureaucracy. Honestly, actually, I know this! The NPS is ...more
Melanie
Oct 17, 2016 rated it liked it
This book was not was I what expecting...but it made me think. I knew from the subtitle and from reading another of Tempest Williams' books that it would be personal and so I expected personal essays musing on the beauty and wonder of various national parks. However, I forgot that Tempest Williams is an activist. Many of the essays focus on climate change, the oil and gas industry, and other threats to America's wild spaces. At times I felt put on the defense by Tempest Williams' radicalism, ...more
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Terry Tempest Williams is an American author, conservationist and activist. Williams’ writing is rooted in the American West and has been significantly influenced by the arid landscape of her native Utah in which she was raised. Her work ranges from issues of ecology and wilderness preservation, to women's health, to exploring our relationship to culture and nature.

She has testified before
...more
“This is what we can promise the future: a legacy of care. That we will be good stewards and not take too much or give back too little, that we will recognize wild nature for what it is, in all its magnificent and complex history - an unfathomable wealth that should be consciously saved, not ruthlessly spent. Privilege is what we inherit by our status as Homo sapiens living on this planet. This is the privilege of imagination. What we choose to do with our privilege as a species is up to each of us.

Humility is born in wildness. We are not protecting grizzlies from extinction; they are protecting us from the extinction of experience as we engage with a world beyond ourselves. The very presence of a grizzly returns us to an ecology of awe. We tremble at what appears to be a dream yet stands before us on two legs and roars.”
16 likes
“My spiritual life is found inside the heart of the wild.” 13 likes
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